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28 Helpful Hints for Bible Reading 19. Beware of Idioms - Psalm 119:34

28 Helpful Hints for Bible Reading

19. Beware of Idioms - Psalm 119:34

19. Beware of Idioms - Psalm 119:34

Psalm 119:34 -Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.

What is an idiom? An idiom is a phrase that has a different meaning based on the usage than what the individual words actually mean. When one says, “It’s raining cats and dogs” they do not mean that dogs and cats are falling out of the sky. They mean that it is raining really hard.

We are all aware of what some idioms means in the modern English language. If I say, “That’s a hot potato,” most of us would know that I am referring to a some topic of conversation that may seem okay but that could be a disputed topic that could potentially burn you. “A penny for your thoughts” means that I would like to know what you are thinking. “Back to the drawing board” means I have to start all over again from the very beginning. “The ball is in your court” means that the next move, decision, or discussion is up to you. “Crying over spilt milk” means that you are complaining about loses or mistakes that were made in the past that cannot be rectified. We all use idioms in our everyday conversations.

But idioms can be based on culture, location, era, and language. They can have a different meaning to different people. They can lose their meaning over time or in translation.

Often times Jesus spoke in words that where hard to understand. He did this to sort out the true followers from the ones who just wanted “a dinner and a show” (idiom). He told his disciples that he spoke in parables so that the hearer would be “ever hearing but never understanding” (idiom). That may lead some to believe that he did not want people to know what he was talking about. But what he was wanting was true followers who were seeking understanding and willing to search out the “pearl of great price” (idiom).

Jesus would use idioms like “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Everyone has ears so what does this mean. I have heard many teachers and preachers say that he is basically saying “listen up” or “pay attention” but I think it is more than this. He is actually saying to apply this to your life or “Just Do It!”(idiom)

Jesus used an idiom in Matthew 6:1-3 when he warned the followers not to “sound the trumpets” when they gave alms but to do it in secret. It means that we shouldn't let others know what or how much we are giving because that should be between you and God alone.

Again in Matthew 6, Jesus uses another Hebrew idiom “the eye is the lamp of the body”. This phrase seems out of place but it would not have been to his hearers. The clear eye represents generosity where the evil eye represents selfishness and stinginess. This fits in clearly with this section on storing up your treasures in heaven.

The difference between the hearer of the word and the doer of the word is that the hear hears and thinks that was a good lesson. The doer of the word will search out understanding and apply the word to their life. Jesus spoke in parables and idioms to sort out the hearers from the doers.

May God bless you today as you seek to apply His word to your life.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Master, You have the keys to eternal life with you. I desire to follow you. I ask for clarity in reading your word. Help me to understand it. Help me apply it to my life. Remove any sin that keeps me from following you. Oh Lord, thank your for Jesus, your indwelling spirit, and your eternal word. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

-Loren Lung

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